The PostBarthian
26Sep/140

Inerrancy: Old Princeton’s Abandonment of the Reformer’s and Westminster Confession Faith’s Doctrine of Inspiration

Princeton_Theological_Seminary

Princeton Theological Seminary (source: wikipedia)

The eminent British church historian, Thomas M. Lindsay, wrote an amazing essay demonstrating how Inerrancy is an innovation by Old Princeton that deviated from the Reformer's doctrine of inspiration and the Westminister Confession of Faith. Donald McKim referred Lindsey's eye opening essay to me: The Doctrine of Scripture: The Reformers and the Princeton School. [PDF].

The following quotation from the article summarizes Lindsay's article:

The common doctrine of the Reformers about Holy Scripture, as I showed in my former article, may be summed up under two principle and four subordinate statements.

  1. In the first place, they held, in opposition to medieval theology, that the supreme value of the Bible did not consist in the fact, true though it may be, that it is the ultimate source of theology, but in the fact that it contained the whole message of God's redeeming love to every believer--the personal message to me.
  2. In the second place, they held that the faith which laid hold on this personal message was not merely assent to propositions, but personal trust on the personal God revealing Himself in His redeeming purpose--a trust called forth by the witness of the Spirit testifying in and through the Scripture, that God was speaking therein.

These two thoughts of Scripture and faith always correspond. In medieval theology theology they are primarily intellectual and propositional; in Reformation theology they are primarily experimental and personal. Hence the witness of the Spirit, which emphasizes this experimental and personal character of Scripture, forms part of almost every statement of the Doctrine of Scripture in Reformation theology.

The four subordinate statements which really implied in the two primary ones are, as I explained, --

  1. There is a distinction to be drawn between Scripture and the Word of God, or between the record and the Divine manifestation of God, His will and His love, which the record conveys;
  2. This true distinction must not be used to imply that the Spirit witnesses apart from the record, nor that one part of the record is the Word of God while another is not, nor must it prevent us saying that the record is the Word of God;
  3. But it implies that the infallibility and authoritative character of Scripture belong to it, not in itself, but because it is the record which contains or presents or conveys the Word of God--it is the Word of God which is primarily infallible and authoritative, and this infallibility and authority are received through faith, not through intellectual assent;
  4. God has framed and preserved the record which contains or presents His Word under a singular care and providence.

Lindsay, Thomas M. "The Doctrine of Scripture: The Reformers and the Princeton School." The Expositor Fifth I (MDCCCXCV): 278-93. Print.

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Posted by Wyatt

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